So, you're planning a trip... Whether it's for business or pleasure, deciding where to stay can be a daunting task. Should you go with an Airbnb or a hotel? What are the benefits of each option? In this article, we'll discuss the pros and cons of each type of accommodation so that you can make the best decision for your needs.
It might seem like a no-brainer to choose a hotel over an Airbnb, but in most cases, an Airbnb is the better choice for a few reasons. But why? Every travel location is different, and where it might seem fun to post pictures of your fancy hotel for your month-long vacation in the Bahamas, Airbnb might be cheaper and more convenient. Many factors go into choosing your accommodation for your trip, and while one might seem like the obvious choice, it is worth researching and considering both before booking. While there have been some Airbnb scams in the past, the platform has included several new policies to combat these issues. If you know what to look out for, you’re golden. We’ll discuss possible ways to look out for scams later.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get started!
Hotel vs. Airbnb: Accommodation
Regarding what lodgings can provide, Airbnb frequently outperforms the competition for a wide range of guests, including self-sufficient couples and digital nomads.
Airbnb is the world's largest home-sharing business, connecting independent owners with guests wishing to rent their space for a set length. It provides mostly independent residences, but more and more booking "groups" and hotel rooms are popping up on the platform. You can research and review your options via an easy-to-use website that allows you to customize your search based on an extensive list of options, e.g., location, group size, price range, and even specific amenities.
Originally, Airbnb was known for its character and unique charm; nowadays, some of Airbnb's residential apartments are not all that different from a hotel. These places, like hotel rooms, can be quite generic in style and really just provide the bare minimum expected for accommodation.
However, there are several benefits to using Airbnb that hotels cannot always offer, or certainly not within the same pricing range. Airbnb usually includes residential-style amenities such as living spaces, kitchens, dining areas, laundry service, parking, and sometimes even provide curated recommendations from locals in the area.
Airbnb usually also provides long-term stay discounts that are much more significant than what a hotel can offer. This is especially useful if you're planning a visit that may last many weeks or months. While extended stay brands in the hotel business are intended to cater to this need, they more often than not lack the level of comfort and amount of amenities an Airbnb can provide.
Hotel vs. Airbnb: Quality
Outliers will always exist, but hotels have considerably more monitoring than Airbnb. This is one of the main reasons hotels outperform Airbnb in terms of quality.
Hotel management is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You have direct access to these personnel during a night's stay, which isn't necessarily the case with Airbnb. Is there a problem with the pool or the Wi-Fi? The hotel staff is on the case. Getting in contact with a host through Airbnb is required, and the long delay might be irritating.
Generally speaking, hotels have the option of regular housekeeping, but Airbnb does not. Hotels also do not impose an additional cost for this service, while many Airbnbs charge cleaning costs that are not included in the pricing.
Hotel vs. Airbnb: Flexibility
When booking a hotel, both hotels and Airbnb provide reasonable flexibility, with some regulations explicitly stated during the booking process.
Many hotels offer a nonrefundable rate as well as higher pricing with additional flexibility. Even if they have standard cancellation policies, some hotels are accommodating to visitors in the event of unexpected situations (like a sudden illness). This means you may try your luck, and many hotels may be willing to waive costs in your favor, particularly if you have paperwork to back up your claims.
Airbnb hosts frequently establish their own cancellation and refund policies, which are shown on the listing page and throughout the booking process. You may also browse for listings offering nonrefundable or refundable pricing choices and create a filter to look for listings with a free cancellation alternative.
Airbnb has cancellation procedures in place for a limited number of mitigating circumstances, but everyone's experiences may differ depending on the case.
Hotels vs. Airbnb: Security
The hotel sector has been around far longer than Airbnb. As a result, they've had more time to fine-tune the safety component. The standard hotel room has many more security and safety features than your typical Airbnb holiday rental - including 24-hour security, CCTV, and lock boxes for your belongings.
While Airbnb homes might be preferred in some circumstances, the truth is that you are (usually) staying in someone else's home and that comes with its own risks. With Airbnb hosts, you don’t have as many safeguards in place to protect you from the unique risk of staying in someone's space on (mostly) their own terms. While the majority of them are entirely safe, there is always the possibility of a rotten apple among them.
There have also been a lot of scams on Airbnb during the last few years. Airbnb has cracked down on the situation and has implemented measures to combat scammers, but as with everything, there might be some that fall through the cracks.
Here are some things you can look out for to make sure you don’t fall prey to an Airbnb scam:
• The pictures look too good to be true
Sometimes it’s obvious that photos have been manipulated - think: photoshopped or digitally enhanced, with edges that don’t match up or bizarre perspectives or shadows. But sometimes there is nothing inherently wrong with the images, they are simply not photos of the actual space - think of it like an Airbnb catfish, using fake photos is a classic Airbnb scam.
• The reviews are bad (or missing)
If a listing seems nice and has no reviews, don’t despair. New listings are not uncommon, and it takes time to build up a good hosting reputation on a site like Airbnb, so a review-less listing isn’t necessarily an Airbnb scam, but you want to be conscious of how long the listing has been live and if it has star ratings but no actual written reviews.
• The reviews are too good
Conversely, there’s the situation where multiple good reviews appear in a row, all with similar wording or confusing nonsensical feedback. Sometimes, it could simply be international travelers using a translator to leave their reviews, but several identical glowing reviews could also be an indication of a classic Airbnb scam listing with fake reviews.
• The host wants you to communicate or pay outside of Airbnb
Airbnb themselves strongly advise (if not require) that all communication and payments happen through their own website or app, as they can only protect transactions that occur within their system. This means you should never, ever, EVER pay in cash! Scammers might offer you a lower rate if you pay in cash or by bank transfer or give them credit card details.
• The website looks like Airbnb, but it isn’t
Make sure that the website you’ve landed on is the real Airbnb website and not one of the very similar-looking fake websites out there that want to steal your vacation budget! Airbnb scams will genuinely put in the effort. The URL should either be https://www.airbnb.com or one of the country-specific ones like https://it.airbnb.com
• If the listing is Airbnb Plus or Airbnb Luxe, it’s been vetted
These listings are definitely more budget-blowing than budget-conscious, but if you can afford a private island vacay in French Polynesia or a penthouse stay in Manhattan, know that you can book confidently. Both Plus and Luxe are thoroughly vetted by Airbnb according to a 100-point in-person inspection process.
• The listing seemed perfect… until you arrived
If you’re unlucky enough to book an Airbnb that turns out to be a complete dud, here’s what to do. Airbnb implemented a Guest Guarantee in December of 2019, which protects guests from last-minute Airbnb scams. If your stay is less than stellar, Airbnb will rebook you to a new listing of the same or better value or offer you a full refund if you notify them within 24 hours after check-in. Qualifying circumstances include an unresponsive host (or one who cancels on you during your trip), an unclean or unsafe space, an inaccurate listing description, or missing important amenities.
The final verdict
It all depends! Hotels are placed centrally, have no chores, and assistance is merely a phone call away. You will, however, spend more money on accommodation, as well as on meals since you have limited resources to cook them yourself. Airbnbs are private, typically cheaper, and provide the opportunity to live like a local while saving money on meals. However, it would be best to research areas and transit, which are sometimes less trustworthy in terms of facilities and services than conventional hotel options. Both are popular with us! After all, variety and flexibility are essential components of travel. A superb housing option is all about determining your wants and desires and then locating a place that meets those criteria. In either case, you'll have a great time arranging your next vacation!